I am acquainted via the internet with a young lady from Egypt named Sahar. Sahar is in many ways a charming young lady and I rather like her, but she and I have many differences of opinion.
For instance, I would describe her as religiously, politically, and socially conservative — extremely conservative. It seems to me she is to the Right of many — but not all — Christian Fundamentalists or Evangelicals in America. She, of course, would not consider herself “a conservative Muslim”. Rather, she would probably think of herself as simply a Muslim — but with the caveat that anyone to the Left of her was not a true Muslim.
Her beliefs contrast rather nicely with mine. On a few religious, political, or social issues I am fairly conservative. But on most such issues I range from Liberal or Progressive to Radical Left. Sahar and I probably don’t have a great future hanging out together in the same political party.
Earlier this morning, Sahar wrote:
Our world witness the dominance of secular atheistic values that is the production of the so-called “Western civilization”. Muslims were not saved from all this like all the other nations as basically their countries were colonized by Western countries that worked to infiltrate their values in the Muslim societies and they managed. After the end of the military occupation, Muslims were still colonized intellectually and morally, in addition to the political and economic colonization. They managed to create persons who speak our tongues but they wear the Western skin. They became the propaganda machine for the secular values of the West. Moreover, they took upon themselves the mission of marginalizing Islam and even announcing war on Islam out loud, the only power that is capable of resisting the dominance of secularism, atheism and anti-God and anti-humanistic values. Not to mention, the war on Islam in the media, the intellectual and political pressure from the “civilized world”. The result is that the West became the standard and the ultimate reference for many Muslims. The result is creating individuals who claim to be Muslims but at the same time ashamed of their religion. Anything in the religion that don’t go well with the Western standard, is compromised and renounced. They think, talk and move to please the West. This is a very dangerous thing, we are talking about taking a partner with God, Shirk. The partner doesn’t have to be a statue or a rock, it might be ideologies, it might be people.
We all notice this everywhere, many Muslims actually hurry to condemn the Islamic teachings and values and their brothers who are following the deen, and to show their support of their Western counterparts who actually attack Islam and Muslims. “See, I am a part of the civilized world!”, “I am like you, progressive and liberal”, “I am among the good guys”.
Thus people who claim to be Muslims but at same time tell you “eating pig should be allowed”, “no harm with a couple of alcohol glasses”, “prohibition of sodomy and adultery is irrelevant to the modern and civilized world, they belong to the past”, appeared although these things are clearly prohibited in the Qur’an. Or they say “Shari’a is backwards”, “Jihad is not required” or by by using dishonest tricks like “these parts are meant to be understood metaphorically not literally”…etc. These people lack a very important quality and that is the ability to criticize. From time to time, certain trends appear in the world and they dominate. Most people just walk in the dominant stream even if it leads to a steep slope and their eventual fall and destruction. Most people don’t question or criticize it. They don’t want to upset all those who follow the current.
When I read what she wrote, my first thought was that it’s quite obvious from the way she writes that she is young. I am honestly not trying to patronize her when I say that. I merely mean that, so far as I can see, certain things are more characteristic of young people than they are of older people. For instance, Sahar’s absolute certainty that her god gives a damn about her morals — or anyone’s morals — is found in people of all ages — but I think it’s more often found in young people than in older.
Again, Sahar’s nearly exclusive focus on ideology and morality is quite common in all ages, but a bit more often found in young people than in older people. Older people tend to see more than just ideological and moral influences at work in things. For instance, they may have some interest in, or a background in, economics, sociology, psychology, business, etc. And those older people who don’t see more than just ideological and moral influences at work in the world tend to find employment as our world’s preachers, pundits, and village idiots.
Last, I gather from what she wrote this morning — and from what I have previously read of her thoughts — that Sahar has a tendency to in one way or another blame all the religious, social, and political ills of the Middle East on one or two things: (1) Western influences, or (2) people falling away from Islam. Sometimes she blames the ills on both those things — as when she says that Western influences cause people to fall away from Islam.
Now, any social or political scientist worth their salt could easily come up with six or ten causes of the various religious, social, and political ills afflicting the Middle East today. To blame everything on Western Influence and Eastern Apostasy seems a bit simplistic. And most older people — not all, but perhaps most — intuitively recognize that such simplistic views as Sahar’s lead in practice to quite often unworkable “solutions”. Or, as Henry L. Mencken said, “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”
Those are just three of the ways Sahar’s words quickly impressed me as being the words of youth. I don’t intend here to make a thorough analysis of all the ways her words impressed me as the words of youth, but anyone might spot several other ways in addition to the three I’ve mentioned here. Of course, there is nothing wrong with being young. I don’t mean to patronize her with my analysis, but only to suggest that as I get older and more decrepit, I begin to see things that I have not always seen — such as a few of the more subtle differences between youth and age.